tv Tavis Smiley PBS July 15, 2011 2:00pm-2:30pm PDT
tavis: good evening, from china. i am tavis smiley. i have had the pleasure of sharing my unique experience with some of my personal staff and my friend and colleague, dr. cornel west. the people have impressed us with their candor and friendliness. it would be a the authoritarian government and their grip on modern china and even for us. minor flareups emerged at some surprising moments. i will share two of those experiences. this all b bininininususa momentnt > e ery commumutyty has a marvelous the king boulevard. this is the cornerstone we all known. this is not just the street or a boulevard where wal-mart stands
to get there with your community to make everyday better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. tavis: additional funding provided by -- >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: this is tiananmen
square. the protest is largely unknown -- unknown to most chinese. today, the square is a major tourist attraction. we had permission to bring our cameras into the square but at the very last moment, the guards refused to let us then and we had no choice but to continue with a tourist camera instead. thankfully, we would not experience this again until our visit until we returned tuesday -- we returned to the 101 middle school i school in beijing. this is one of the highest in the world. only the highest achievement is expected. the academic work load is intense. all day classes, six days a week.
first i first came here and i wanted to return with my young staffers and dr. west. good afternoon. i am delighted to be back in beijing. thank you for welcoming us for a second time. i would like to do basically what we did the first time i came. i would like the students to ask us some questions as a group. came with me.m they would like to ask that you and your culture. applied to ask a good friend of mine to share some thoughts and reflections. this is is first trip to china. -- i would like to ask a good friend of mine to share some thoughts. he used to be a professor at harvard. now, he is a professor at
princeton. his name is cornell west -- his name is dr. cornel west. we will have some dialogue and see if we can have a good conversation. please welcome, professor west. [applause] >> let me say that i am blessed to be here. each one of you are precious and priceless. what that means is that you are the future, not just of china but also to the future of the world. the human family. the relationship between china and the u.s. is crucial because both are superpowers.
the challenge for young people are around the world but especially around china and the u.s. is what, to be smart, encouraged to think, creative, also occurs to laugh. also putting yourself in the shoes of someone else so you have a sensitivity to them as you are very very smart. i will stop there. [applause] tavis: our conversation started with a simple question, is the criticism that the strict chinese system keeps even the smartest student thinking for themselves valid? should critical thinking be a more important part of the curriculum in china? >> i am totally for it. tavis: you think young people
don't do this enough in china? >> you want more details? tavis: tell me more why you feel that way. >> i am a student in liberal arts. what we are studying is history and politics and also geography. that is what i hate most in history, that we are on the memorizing facts. we don't know whether this is really the history, we are only memorizing them. we don't really feel them. that is what i hate. i have a friend who transferred to the u.s. and i learned that he had studied in the indictment for a month. i guess he must have done a good deal of reading the we have only learned that for two days. >> i think that that is very
well said. >> as chinese, we have our special educational system. what really matters is that we can know a lot of facts of the history of the world's and as we know the facts, we can make the world a better place. it matters with us but not the educational system. what we have to do is to think creatively but this does not have anything to do with the form of education that we know. >> i have to complain about something about the education in china. in fact, there is a trend in education about the speed of change getting faster and
faster. for example, i think that education is cramming. too much homework. not too much critical thinking. when you think critically, you can tell the teacher what we think, not what they think. that point should be changed. >tavis: i appreciate that. >> about the educational system, i have to think that that this is not our fault or the government's fault or our country's fall. many people are born. we are facing great competition. we have 10,000,006 people in our same age. we have to compare who is better and who is not so good.
we must memorize but also you have to know the history, then you can think. for example, if we don't even know the revolution, how can we know from that? how can we know to do that in the future? then't think that educational system has some problems, the problem is is a different way of thinking. tavis: we have been wrestling with about your one child policy. your entire generation, single child. most all of you are single children. we were talking yesterday about the pressure, the pressure, the pressure that your parents put on you to succeed to get into university because there are only so many openings available
for these millions of students who are graduating. only so many slots available in school. they want someone to take care of them when they get older. can you talk to me about whether or not you feel that kind of pressure? you don't? >> i think that every parent will give their child -- only because we are a one child policy. i'm the only child in my home. my mother sometimes gives me pressure but she only wants me to do better and be more focused on steady. i focus on my study and i do the right things, my mother will not give me such pressure and don't have to make me so stressful. tavis: that is very important.
>> my mother tells me that she wants me to be happy in my whole life. my study is not very bad. my mother said that she does not care about how i study. when i study better, i become happier and she becomes happier. tavis: i am glad to hear that. perhaps our earlier conversation about critical thinking because the deputy -- came out and denounce the u.s. and i had to counter with a criticism of china. >> the problem is that white is the american government tried to have -- why is the american
government tried to have friction and thinking against the chinese government and the chinese people? maybe you should focus on persuading. you should tell the government not to start so many wars and focus on the civilians around the world. there is the work inside of millions of people. you should not be afraid of our young people will be warned
against america but actually what we are afraid of is that maybe americans will make war against us. the culture of chinese people which has lasted for thousands of years has always focused on peace. tavis: i want to ask him a question. his critique, his statements about the u.s. government is engaged in wars around the world, i think most of the people in this group understand that point and might even agree. that said, if he were having this conversation, if he repeated what he just said to many of the american people, they would take that as a lecture from him. they would respond to him by saying that china has no right
to talk to us about the wars we start with your record on human rights instead of your own country. -- inside of your own country. that's what they would say, china has a problem with human rights. until you give your people freedom to express yourself, you cannot say that much to us about what we do around the world. >> we all act according to our own judgment. we simply believe that the harm to millions of civilians is not something moral. thank you.
tavis: your dean gave some strong impressions of what he thinks about our country. you are all speaking english, what do you think of the united states? >> the things they're doing and what they have done is both the benefit of the country and a hindrance. i think that is perfectly adjusted. we all know about the wars and they are intolerable, cruel, bloody. i think most of the things, both domestically or internationally, the u.s. has done, they are doing and have done to benefit the people of the u.s. the opinion of the people in china is that the chinese people are not free. they are jailed whether culturally or politically.
this is the view of some people in other countries. very few people, almost no one in china, they feel that they are leading a life that is not free. they are not allowed to do this or do that. not many people think so. i think the reason of this is because those people live in china and those that live in the u.s., they live in different conditions. almost totally different. that is one of the reasons why i am curious about the u.s. and i think it is different. i think it is a good difference. why they are arguing with chinese people that you are not
free, many americans say that because they think of china's political matters from their perspective. sometimes, they fail to feel empathy towards us. they did not put themselves in our shoes. there are many differences. i don't think that it is a point to have an argument because we live in different conditions. that is my opinion about the u.s. tavis: how do you get your information about our country? what do you read? what do you listen to? how do you get information about the u.s.? >> we learned about the u.s. -- i went to the united states when i was in the second grade. tavis: where did you go? >> houston, texas.
this is a city with a lot of fun and everyone is full of enthusiasm. because of the houston rockets. of course, we are all against the wars. he means that we should find a better way to solve the problem. we don't know how the u.s. government thinks but for us we think that this is a cruel way. we learn from america mostly from music. tavis: music? >> yeah. we learn how americans talk and look. maybe about the film and the media. a lot of news from that. things like political events. we learn from the news. chinesedon't go to the
internet, we can go to the international internet to know things. communication for us is more and more convenient and we have a lot of ways to know america. it is not just that we are thinking, we are able to feel america. we can listen to songs that are just as popular there. tavis: name me three or five of your favorite american musical artists. >> coldplay, beyonce, michael jackson. tavis: what is your dreams -- what are your dreams? >> and to live a happy life. >> to be the manager of an nba team. [laughter] tavis: i like that. >> have a nice wife. [laughter] [applause]
tavis: nice wife, nice life. >> i wanted to know what some of you wanted to study at the university. what are your career goals? what would you select as a major? tavis: mass media. >> journalism. tavis: you want to go to brown university? you want to go to america. >> i am curious of their conception of the american peers and have you got to succeed in education. the use see them as lazy with too many options or are you more focused? -- do you see them as lazy.
>> we talked to people in middle schools. they are creative but less intelligent. tavis: i hear your point. when you say that they are more creative but less intelligent, what do you mean by that? >> intelligence in studying. tavis: they don't steady as hard? >> no, in my opinion. >> that has more to do with their habits. >> do you interpret the value of your degree the same way or differently? >> i think that this is just to get jobs and that is all. knowledge is not. maybe with more knowledge, you can earn more money. knowledge is a part of your system. this knowledge, i think that
your mind is stronger than all of the others. we can gain wisdom. money can never give you that. tavis: you are right about that. >> i really appreciate the way of higher education and high education in america. the -- education of china is very great and it should not be so many people who are criticizing this. i think that we have different ways of learning things. in our school, we are just may be learning more than thinking but in america, they read a lot and they think more. i don't think that american students care so much about their scores but actually some of us care about it because this is kind of our access to a
better university. tavis: the competition is much different. >> yeah. so, it is hard to compare the two education systems. i think that this is a different kind of education system for a different kind of people. i think we have quite different cultures and history. tavis: i will give you the last word, doc. aboutrious what you think what she said. >> one thing we have to recognize is that you have brilliance, high intelligence, and even habits in both countries. what is distinctive about china is that you all are moving so quickly and the u.s. has had universities for over 120 years doing what they do. that is why places like princeton, one of the best in the world.
brown, harvard, yale, berkeley, univ. of chicago, they have been doing it for a long time. china is catching up quick. i want to end with this brief point which is this -- we must learn from each other in a spirit of humility, with dignity. china has a great civilization in the past and present. china has work to do to be better. in the united states has a great history but work to do. we can learn from one another, push one another, criticize ourselves and criticize one another said that we will both be more democratic and more free. that is what is so wonderful about this discussion. tavis: i had a wonderful time
here. it is the students here in beijing and their counterparts in the u.s. that will decide how our two countries deal with each other in the future. i have come away from this journey as i have with some of the other's thinking that what we need to do is talk to each other and listen to each other and fines -- and find what makes us the same residential land on what makes us different. >thank you for hanging out with us. . next time, keep the faith. tavis: drumming next time as we wrap our -- join me next time as we wrap up our trip to china. >> every community has a martin luther king jr. boulevard. this is the cornerstone we all know. this is not just the street or a boulevard but where wal-mart stands together with your community to make everyday better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer,
nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. tavis: additional funding provided by -- >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] kcet public television]